There’s a lot of stored material on my hard drives, in my photo albums (I’m talking about actual photo albums, not the online version), and on little 8mm video tapes that documents a history of Oklahoma climbing. I’m in the process of getting some of that good stuff either online for the first time or, as in this case, back online.
The webpage about the Quarry was online about a decade ago. That’s pre-Facebook for those of you that recall those days. Back then there may have even been a pay phone or two around at your local 7-11. Yes, that far back.
The Quarry is one of those areas that is veiled in mystery and secrecy like some fraternal order. But unlike some of those mysterious entities that abound with exaggerated stories of varying degrees of truth, this place actually exists and in the majority of cases the stories passed down among generations are true.
A climbing area like the Quarry just seems unbelievable. Impossible. Especially from the standpoint of a person in smooth-soled rubber shoes and a dusting of magnesium carbonate on their hands. For it seems, from this perspective of a climber looking up at granite as clean as giant tombstone, that it would take more than these basic utilities to make any upward movement whatsoever. It would take suction cups for fingers and toes.
Nothing so steep asthe front side of the Quarry can be labeled “slab climbing.” A misnomer to say the least. But much of it is just that; less than vertical. The Quarry is a conflict of interest by every account. It wasn’t intended to be climbed but a place as scarred as this ran asunder from rules the moment the first dynamite bore hole was drilled. Now, anything might go. For instance, The Back Room, a place where experiments in glued on rocks, chiseled holds, and multipitch tiered-traverse climbs on slick-as-glass stone exist.
There is very little that is nice about this place. That is to say, aesthetically pleasing. Layers of lame graffiti. Clanging remnants of sheet metal bent around stone. Whipping of rusted cables strung overhead to steel towers. Blue-green water pits the depths of which contain unknown wastes. Tons of symmetrically cleaved blocks strewn across a hillside – the insides of a once innocent mountainside evacuated. “The Best Granite on Earth,” they say. It may be. But in the oddest of forms now.
There’s hardly a stone that is harder than this.
But what entices the climber to even begin to approach such a place? Pure and simple: the challenge.
The Quarry is a place where success is measured in the smallest of movements. The technical aspects of climbing come alive. Climbing here is a hybrid of climbing rock and structures – sure it’s stone, but it’s man-made.
In the page added here I’m reintroducing the climbing world to part of Oklahoma climbing – a hidden gem. A rough-cut gem, but a gem nonetheless. It’s worth noting that the Quarry is private property and trespassing can carry consequences. I’m not advocating visiting the Quarry. I’m only wanting to share some history of it with you.
Maybe one day a band of climbers can get together and help acquire the Quarry as a climbing reserve. It just so happens that it’s perfect for that.